Untitled, 1980

Miami Beach 2019
Galerie Thomas
Acrylic on canvas
Artwork size
310.0 x 635.0 (cm)
122.0 x 250.0 (inch)

This large-scale painting by Sam Francis is an outstanding example of his ambition to create massive works that allowed him to develop rhythm and patterns beyond the usual surface of a canvas painting, or without the confines of a mural painting, fixed to a wall. Francis began working on large format canvases in the mid-1950s when he moved to a larger studio. His most famous large-scale work is perhaps the triptych for Kunsthalle Basel, which was created in 1958 and was on display in the museum’s staircase until 1964. Painted in 1980, the untitled work shown here represents the apotheosis of Francis’s earlier large works of the 1950s and 1960s that were forerunners of the environmental installations and wall-covering practices pervasive today. The sheer extension of the painted surface allows the spectator an immersion in the work’s concept. Painted for an exhibition at the Abbaye de Sénanque in southern France, this work counts among Francis’s period of free-flowing color from around 1980 to 1982.

Sam Francis (born 1923 in San Mateo, CA) created abstract narratives in color. In his pictures, color develops its own life to convey certain emotions. After moving to Paris, he attended the Atelier Fernand Léger where was influenced by the work of Pierre Bonnard and Henri Matisse. He returned to California some years later, and took part in Clement Greenberg’s landmark exhibition ‘Post Painterly Abstraction’ (1964) at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. He died 1994 in Santa Monica and remains a seminal figure in American art history to this day.